MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The Marines and sailors of Lima Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, conducted non-lethal weapons training this week at Camp San Mateo, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Lima Battery was trained by instructors from I Marine Expeditionary Force Special Operations Training Group in preparation for their upcoming deployment attached to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in January.
“Right now, we’re teaching them the basic skills,” said Sgt. Robert Sanchez, I MEF SOTG instructor. “The Marines are learning strikes, takedowns and other non-lethal tactics to protect themselves and others in an operational environment.”
The training began Monday when Lima Battery was taught basic baton tactics, the use of lethal force, escalation of force, the rules of engagement, and unarmed strikes, blocks and takedowns.
Monday culminated with classes and practical application about Oleoresin Capsicum spray, a non-lethal chemical used to disorient an opponent. First, they practiced spraying techniques with practice spray against stationary, walking and running targets.
Afterward, the Marines were taught how to fight through OC spray. After being sprayed in the face, each Marine had to correctly complete a confidence course. There were five stations, each of which required the Marines to use a different non-lethal technique they had learned that day.
“Being sprayed was rather intriguing,” said 1st Sgt. Richard Estrada, Lima Battery first sergeant. “This is good training. It teaches the Marines how to overcome adversity. The training is really coming out.”
Some Marines did not necessarily agree with Estrada, but it did not obscure the importance of the training to them.
“The OC spray sucked,” said Lance Cpl. Tom Dougherty, canoneer. “It was like the gas chamber times a million. It feels good to have gotten through it though.”
The instructors seem to be pleased with the progress the Marines have made in the training.
“So far, the Marines are coming along pretty well,” said Sanchez. “They’re really grasping what they need – the basics. The basics are what will protect themselves and others out there.”
Tuesday, the Marines were taught more takedowns. They were also introduced to crowd control formations and riot control tactics.
Wednesday was spent honing their new-found skills and rehearsing different crowd control scenarios in preparation for the final day of training.
Lima Battery completed their training by using the skills they learned throughout the week to diffuse a mock riot. Everything they were taught had to be applied in order to take control of the situation.
The battery returned to the Combat Center Thursday, following four days of intense training. Overall, the Marines seemed satisfied and were glad to have completed the course.
“It’s a good thing we did this,” said Cpl. James Noles, motor transport operator with Lima Battery, 3/12. “If I never went through this, I wouldn’t know what it’s like. I might use too much force on someone during a real life scenario.”
Both experienced Marines and those new to the battery feel positive about the training they are receiving.
“The training’s actually pretty sweet,” said Cpl. Greg Panella, section chief will Lima Battery, 3/12. “It’s good we’re getting it because we’re going to the Pacific Rim, which has a lot of instability. We may have to put this training to use there.”
For many Marines in the battery, this will be their first deployment.
“I’m pretty excited to deploy for the first time,” said Pfc. Steven Rasmussen, an artilleryman with Lima Battery, 3/12. “I hope we get to use this training while we’re over there.
Rasmussen added he came to the battery approximately one month ago and has been in the field most of the time.
After a much-deserved weekend of rest, Lima Battery will return to the field to conduct artillery operations with their MEU counterpart, Battalion Landing Team 2/4. The battery will provide essential indirect fire support to BLT 2/4 during upcoming training scenarios and in the operational environment while deployed.
Lima Battery will continue to train before deploying as part of the 31st MEU in January to Okinawa, Japan. Their newly-acquired non-lethal training and tactics will help defend themselves and others in the operational environment they may face in the future.